Monday, April 20, 2009

Wine Festival Weekend -- A Tasting Tour

This weekend was the Vintners' Association Festival Weekend, and many tasting rooms were open. We started our day at Ken Brown Wines. Ken was pouring at his new digs in Buellton.

Ken Brown was founding winemaker at Zaca Mesa, back in 1979. It was Ken who first questioned the wisdom of planting mostly Bordeaux-style grapes in Santa Barbara County, and who first experimented with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the region. He founded Byron winery in the early 1980's. I can remember seeing all the Cabernet Sauvignon vines along the lower end of Tepusquet Canyon cut off and regrafted with Pinot Noir as Ken Brown's revelation begain to sink in . . . except in the hottest eastern parts of the region, it's too cool to grow good Cabernet Sauvignon, but the Burgundian grapes just love it!

So you could say Ken Brown has more experience than just about anyone else in making Pinot Noir and Chardonnay here in Santa Barbara County. His wines have an intensity of flavor combined with perfect balance. All the sharp edges have been rubbed smooth. We tasted the 2006 Nielson Vineyard Chardonnay and five Pinot Noirs: 2007 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir, 2006 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir, 2007 Sta Rita HIlls Pinot Noir, 2006 Pinot Noir Cargasacchi Vyd, and the 2006 Pinot Noir Clos Pepe. Each offered the unique flavor of the fruit, with the Ken Brown touch.

Ken's new location is in the Terravant Wine Company on Industrial Way in Buellton, a new multi-producer facility. They were hosting a Festival Bbq and tasting later in the day that looked to be the best bargain of the weekend. Some of the many wineries involved included Byron, Huber, Hitching Post, Imagine, Thorne, and Alere -- the Bbq was from Hitching Post, and the $20 fee was a donation to People Helping People. It looked like a great event, but we wanted to move on to a few other locations. Future posts will detail all the stops...


  1. Glad to see you are back in business! I always think the internal history of the SB wine family is so fascinatinng. Hopefully we will be able to get out to SB for a festival sometime soon and have you give us the in-person tour... maybe next year?